Urban Fold

In Cash-Strapped Cities, Parents Create Inclusive Playgrounds

Federal requirements often aren't enough incentive for municipalities to create accessible playgrounds, so parent advocates are paving the way for kids with special needs to access playgrounds.

The Americans with Disabilities Act now includes provisions for play areas that are accessible to people with disabilities, but cash-strapped governments are reluctant to take on the cost. "The higher cost of 'inclusive' playgrounds means many local governments can't afford them. And in places that do offer the kind of shared playing experience contemplated by the ADA, a group of frustrated parents are typically behind it all," reports Robert Benincasa. 

However, the opportunity to participate in play with other children is an important part of childhood that kids with disabilities need. "'Play areas are not just places where kids have fun,' says Eve Hill, a civil rights lawyer with the Justice Department, which enforces the ADA."

"'They are places where kids learn to interact with the world, and with each other,' Hill says. That places playgrounds in the same category as other civil-rights touchstones [such as swimming pools and lunch counters]."

Now, many parent advocates are raising money to create playgrounds that all kids can enjoy, like Brooklyn's Playground in Pocatello, Idaho, described by parent Jonny Fisher: "'We have the therapeutic swings,' Fisher says. 'These have got backs, so kids that don't have that muscle tone can get in there completely, and feel safe and secure and swing.'"

"'We have ramps leading up to all the play structures. You have the solid surfaces throughout the entire playground. With walkers or wheelchairs it's very easy to go around this.'"


Full Story: For Kids With Special Needs, More Places to Play

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